InterviewsApril 3, 20096,874 views

Walls Of Jericho interview

By Drew Ailes
I wanted to go ahead and touch on standard bullshit; new album, new material, just because it has to be addressed.

I'm ready.

So everyone always says that their new album is their best, that it's more structured, all that other shit. What are the things you actually set out to improve from the other material? Were there things you were kind of dissatisfied with that you came in with a mission with?

Me, personally, I would just listen to the old record and find like, three songs that I liked, and then the rest were very mediocre. When you're writing a record, you never have enough time to sit back and really figure out if something's really good. I've never had that experience, so you start doing it full-time, and then you realize you write a record and you put all this time into it, and it doesn't matter if you get it right or not. You have a deadline, and you just kind of put out what you've finished at that point, and that's all you can do, you know? So what we wanted to do was not do that so much, or do that as little as possible. In most ways, we were faced with the same problems, because we've learned as we've gone, and we've tried to eliminate that as much as possible.

Do you feel there were fans that were doing the same thing with the record? Finding three songs they liked?

I mean, we've never really blown up, so obviously it's never like everyone's feeling like they're the greatest songs they've ever heard. It's hard to say though. I like the songs, I like the records, and I'm not embarrassed of any of them. I just know that you could spend more time and get better results, and it's not always just us not using our time wisely, or us not having the talent or whatever.

It's just cutting it down to the wire.

Yeah, there's just always so many other factors that come into play, and we're trying to eliminate those factors so we could write the best record we could write. Whether or not that's any good is a whole other matter.

Did you have more time to do this record?

In a weird way we did, but we had about the same amount of time. We used it more wisely than ever, because we were all able to pretty much do the writing together. Which we've never done. We usually get together in whatever the time frame is, and you get together once or twice a week and try to work together, or work at home on your own and get together twice a week and try to write a record. We did this four or five times a week. We actually lived together. We'd get up in the morning and we'd make breakfast, then start writing and talking about it and listening to other things. Like Motown and stuff like that, just things to get your day going right and get you in a mood you want to be in, try to be creative, try to be positive. Just listen to other people's ideas, and things we've never really been able to do before.

So you really got to take the time and put an actual setting to the creative process. So, touching on the whole thing of the American dream, are you prepared, potentially, for an onslaught of confederate flag t-shirts coming up and confronting you at the merch table?

No, I think if you just take the record title as 'The American Dream', there's no negative connection there. Anybody who doesn't take the time wouldn't take anything negative from it, and anyone who does take the time, I don't think you would get the negative that you're saying, where we don't like our country or don't want to be a part of our country, or whatever it is anybody could possibly come up with. I think it's pretty personal and it has to do more with social issues and the fact of not liking America, but being told our whole lives... We grow up with this idea of going to school and learning a trade or whatever it is you want to do, you go to college, you get the job, you marry the pretty girl, have your kids, have the white picket fence.

The American dream of working hard and achieving results, which is not even always the case.

That's exactly what the issue is. More and more, everybody we know, people in our community, the music scene, all of our friends and families, everybody's losing their houses, they can't get jobs. They have the talent, they have the skill to do the things they need to do, but those opportunities are no longer there, and things are just drying up faster and faster. That's really what that's about, is just losing hope in that dream.

Where are you ultimately trying to get to? Are you satisfied doing moderately sized tours and getting by, or is this something that you're really dedicated to pushing forward and taking things to the next level? Or is that something that's yet to be determined?

I don't think any band could really answer that with a solid one way or another. Obviously, if you're going to spend the time, you want as many people as possible to hear what you do, and you want as many of those people as possible to like what you do. And I think that's where we're at. But I don't expect that. I know that we're not writing the kind of music that would really even deem that, and if we really wanted that bad enough, we'd write those songs, and we don't. We choose to write the songs that we like to write in the style we like to play in, and just play the venues and clubs in the atmosphere we like. On that level, we try to do that to the best of our abilities and hope that the people that are like-minded all like to do the same things that we like to do. If that ended up growing to something where we're playing really big clubs or small arenas, whatever, that's awesome. We do the fest thing, and we're playing to the masses. Those kids, at this point in time, are far more appreciative to what we're doing than the scene that we've grown out of. We've always been a straight hardcore band, and hardcore itself has changed. We're not really seen as a hardcore band anymore.

I heard something you or Candace had said about you almost being "ousted from hardcore". What was the thing that was being referred to?

I mean, hardcore over its whole career has changed its style, its sound, its meaning, its message, whatever. But hardcore at whatever given moment has a distinctive sound, a distinctive message, a distinctive idea, whatever. It's never that one is so far from the other or completely opposite or anything like that, but there's a certain moment in time where you are what's going on and then you either follow every trend to stay right there with whatever everybody's doing. And eventually whatever you are and what hardcore is changes to a point where those kids who used to... the same hardcore kids that are into the scene and into what's going on and up on what's going on, their experiences don't even involve you anymore. I don't even know what they like. Let's say like a Whitechapel or something, which I've never even heard of, but I know everyone always says that bands like Whitechapel, deathcore stuff, you know, if you're new to it, that's the kind of stuff you're going to be exposed to. That's going to be the stuff you think is hardcore. A band like us, not that we sound like this, but Sick of It All or whatever, they're not. But that's different, the message may be there but they're playing this kind of music, which isn't really hardcore. What we do is not what they do, and that's what the kids that are coming in here associate with. And that's what hardcore is. That's what hardcore always is; a high turnaround rate, whatever the scene at the time listens to.

Yeah, whatever is dictated out at the time by whatever is most popular and what kids that are just coming into it grab onto.

Right. And that's how it evolves, and that's how bands progress in and out, sometimes by their own doing. Sometimes bands just totally change their style, sometimes just the style changes, and you get left behind. We would be sort of left behind.

I see. What are your views on labels at this point? Are you sure they're still necessary? Once you guys fulfill your terms with Trustkill, do you have any idea not where you're going in terms of label, but what you're looking at doing, as far as going to another label?

Unfortunately, I do think labels are necessary. We're too busy to do the things that they do for us. We don't have whatever money it takes to put down on the things, like a record or advertising, and we also don't have the manpower to follow through with those things. But really, a label has just turned into an ad campaign for you, and it used to be a lot more. Maybe it was never more on the big level, maybe it's always just been put out the record and advertise for the record and that's it. But when you're a small band like us, and you're in a hardcore band or a small metal band or whatever, it always used to be really personal.

It was a community of support.

Yes. Where the label put out bands because they loved the bands and wanted you to do as good as possible because they absolutely loved you, and those things aren't really the case anymore. I'm not saying personally with us. I think when we signed with the label, he really liked what we do, and he probably, or may still, like what we do, but it's not like that anymore.

Do you think that's because of declining CD sales, or do you think that just as labels grow, it's an inherent nature for them to continue in a profit-minded fashion?

I think it's a little bit of both. Obviously, as record sales decline, you're going to try to put out what's going to keep you afloat. At the same level, everything you're involved with for a while, your passion becomes your job. You lose a lot of the passion that was your passion in the first place, if that makes sense. You take something that you love because you love to do it and turn it into your job; you no longer love it.

It's a law of diminishing returns.

That's what this is. The farther you go, the less personal it is. The less personal reward, even. You don't have that personal contact, that sense of accomplishment, it's all business at that point. Once it's all business, I don't think there's any joy in it.

So translating that to what you're doing as a band as far as drawing parallels between your passion, playing music, to a simple thing like touring, of course. Your sixteenth show into a tour, you're probably not going to have the same enthusiasm necessarily as your first show, of course it's variable according to turnout, etc. What do you do to keep things as personal as possible?

Me, personally, I just remember it only takes three days when I get home and I'm going to hate it. Right now, this is probably over day 50. It's almost two months we've been gone. At this point, you don't get to sleep in your bed or see your family every day. You get all these things that eat up at you for a while, but then as soon as you get home, you see them, you sleep in your bed, and you remember what it's like. And then it's just like, okay, that's cool. It doesn't really matter which one you're doing, because if you're on tour, you just want to be home. And if you're at home, you just want to be on tour. It's like that grass is always greener thing. And for me, it's just always remember that. Just sitting at home wanting to gouge my eyes out because I'm so sick of it, and I would do anything just to be out here, and now I'm tired and wish I could go home.

What happens to you if there's no reason to tour?

I don't know what I'd do.

You could get onto doing sound, I'm sure.

I don't know what I'd do, but I've been thinking about it. I would love to open a business and do something maybe. I don't really know. I've done this for so long, and it's the only thing I've ever wanted to do in my life. The idea of doing other things seems foreign. Maybe that's why bands continue.

Out of lack of having anything better to do?

Yeah, I mean, we've been doing this for ten years, and we're not really farther along than we were ten years ago. What keeps you doing it has got to be this love, because it's not like crazy money or whatever.

You don't walk down the street and people-- well, I'm sure occasionally somebody has to have been...

I took pictures today at the Mall of America.

Did somebody recognize you?

Some dude, I don't know. Some dude that was at the Buffalo show, and we're in Minneapolis right now. Whatever. It was weird.

What is the biggest obstacle for you guys at this point in your career? Do you think that things are getting easier for you, or do you think that things are plateauing?

The biggest obstacle right now is getting the people that are involved with us that are outside of our personal control to care to the level that the people inside our band, who we do have control (of), care. Everybody that works for us doesn't care. They all say they do, but at the end of the day, they don't. Because if they did, they wouldn't do the things that they do. I'm not saying they don't do anything, but it's like, you bust your ass to do this stuff and you don't really feel like you're getting the same return from everybody else.

When is the DVD coming out?

No plans to put out a DVD.

I don't know where I got that from then.

You got that from us. But again, the people who are involved with us outside the band who don't really care about stuff and don't put in the effort they were supposed to put in to make a DVD happen equals no DVD. We did everything we were asked to do to make one.

So the footage is just sitting somewhere?

I would imagine, because it's not out.

Have you ever thought about putting together your own haphazardly edited shit and selling it at the merch table?

We've talked about doing something. Not necessarily what way, because it'd have to be out a little bit more legitimately, but I mean, it doesn't have to, I guess. We've talked about doing something legitimately, but doing it ourselves. Because that's what we have to do. At this point, if we want something done, we have to do it.

Tell me the things that you still love about doing this. Other than getting up there and getting to play guitar.

To be honest, that's what it's come down to.

Do you feel that it redeems everything? You're all pissed off about a show or whatever--

No. You being involved in this probably know better than that, but I think if you ask somebody who didn't know anything about aggressive music, that's exactly what they would think. But if you're mad, you don't feel better at the end of the show. You play mad, you're more mad, and it doesn't matter how good the show was. If you're pissed off, it just perpetuates it. To me, being on stage is the fun part, but it doesn't fix your problems. You still have to be in the right state of mind. You have to want to go out and have fun, and then have fun. But there are a lot of good parts. Meeting people across the world. Being places I'd never thought I'd be in my life. We all grew up with that American dream attitude of you work, you go to school, and you get married or whatever it is that you do, but none of that really involves traveling. Once in a while you hear that, especially in movies, but you never see that for real. Nobody in my family ever went anywhere, you know? Nobody in my extended family. No one's ever been anywhere.

Is your family pretty impressed with what you've done?

They think it's insane. But see, they only see it at the big shows, like the Mayhem Fest thing we just did. They see one part of it, and then they use that to base it, which is great.

Some people have an uncle who plays in a blues band at a barbecue shack and think that's coolest thing in the world. Obviously this is a larger level.

Just say that my parents see me play in front of like, ten thousand people, and everybody does whatever you say and then stand in line for two hours to get your autograph. They think you're sweet. We know that's not real. There's not ten thousand kids here tonight. They're not going to stand in line to get your autograph.

Last time I saw you, you guys were signing autographs for hours and hours. I came back like three hours later, and you guys were still signing. Why are those kids getting your autographs?

I don't know. I guess what I honestly think is that your regular everyday person, which is the kind of person who goes to our shows like that, those are people who work every day and love music. They hear you on the radio, or whoever on the radio, probably mostly Disturbed and Slipknot on that tour, and that's a whole different world to them. That's a dream world, you know what I mean? It's just like movies, in that sense. You never expect to see an actor, you never expect to meet a rock star. It doesn't matter that they don't know you, you're up there. You're on the stage, and they're in the crowd, and there's a definite definition between what you are and what they are.

Do you try to actively bridge that gap when you meet fans?

It goes two ways. At a show like this, even now, there's a lot of people who are at this show tonight, and they always come up and want a picture and want to sign stuff like they were there, and then they talk to you for a couple of minutes. Most of the conversation is how they can't believe they're talking to you, and they can't believe that you're out in the crowd, can't believe that you're nice. Just stuff that shows their vision of what you are is just not realistic, because they don't know what that is. They think you live in some dream world.

They think you're going back to your RV filled with mountains of money and beautiful women.

Yeah, I don't know what they think, exactly. I know what I thought when I was a kid, and I'm sure it's the same thing, you know? When you get on the other side and think, 'Oh, this is what it's really like? Alright, cool.' it's refreshing to know that it's more real than what your dreamworld is, but I understand that people see you and they talk to you based on what they think is going on backstage. To answer your question from way earlier, people come and get our autographs and honestly, they don't know who we are two hours before that. They've see us play, and we were on the stage and they weren't, and that makes you famous. If people have heard of you, you're famous, and if they haven't heard of you, you're not famous. That's how it works.

What do you live for? Why do you do anything? What is your motivator?

There is something inside of us as animals that gives us that need to survive.

And that's it? Cut and dry.

Well, I don't know. Are you asking why I don't just stop breathing one day?

More of that, what keeps you--

Because life isn't bad. Is it really that bad?

I don't think it's that bad.

I have a good time. I'm surrounded by good people, and I have a lot of friends. I like my car.

What do you drive?

A Mazda Six. Drives great.

I hear they have transmission problems sometimes.

They do, mine doesn't. Mine has no problems. That is a hard question, but it's a good question. I haven't thought of that maybe ever in my life, but I would say the reason is that if most of us sit down and think about it, we have a pretty fucking good life. It's the every day stuff that sometimes gets to you, but it's that whole grass is always greener thing.

You have to be grateful. Everybody takes things for granted. I showed an ex-girlfriend of mine something on the internet that shows you a gauge of how rich you were globally. And you type in your income and it tells you in what percentage of the world's population you're at. So I punch in mine and it's like, very interesting. So I go to my girlfriend at the time, and I say, come do this, what do you make? And she's like, I make $18,000 a year, I don't make shit. And I go, go ahead and enter in that, and she pops in it and she's like, top three percent of the world. I think that's exactly what you're saying. We have pretty good lives for the most part in this country. Granted there is a lot of poverty out there. I mean, you guys are from Detroit, and you've seen your share of destitution.

That's a weird thing to me, too, because in this world, the one part that-- I'm not even trying to be cheesy, but going back to your original question and American dream stuff-- it's so easy to do okay. I can't believe that if you live in this country and you are just stuck in poverty, I can't believe it. Because it's so easy to not be stuck in poverty. You can make a thousand dollars a month and own a house. You can work at McDonald's, not even full-time, and make a thousand dollars a month. What the fuck's the problem? I'm not saying you'll have a great house, but you can own a house, get to work, have enough money to eat. None of that really affects how good your friends are or what a good person you are in life, but you can have all the things you need without even having a full-time job. It's ridiculous. It's awesome.


17 comments

Post Comment
shredtacular_ 4/3/2009 11:28:52 AM

1st, drew you suck


curse_ 4/3/2009 11:47:42 AM

Mike's a good dude, have liked WOJ since the first time I heard them. Good work, Drew, a bit hasty on the time to post but hey.


drewcifer_ 4/3/2009 1:14:44 PM

i am deeply embarrassed of how f*cking long this took me to get here. sorry. have at it.


zero_x_potential_ 4/3/2009 3:09:52 PM

Pretty good interview but you should have asked about that horrible acoustic EP


PopeCthulhuTron9000X_ 4/4/2009 12:05:33 AM

You can make $1000 a month working part time at McDonald's and own a house while doing so? I don't think so, bro.


TheWood_ 4/4/2009 11:25:51 AM

This guy's sense of finance and economics is laughable. If you earn $1000 a month, you aren't buying a house; you're renting a shitty apartment - for the rest of your shitty life. And I hope you have roommates, because otherwise you aren't going to have enough money for food or car insurance.


drew_ 4/4/2009 1:21:01 PM

yet more nonchalant bullshit from drew.


drew_ 4/4/2009 1:48:29 PM

nonchalant? dont use words you dont know


huckleberry_ 4/4/2009 2:47:49 PM

i guess it all depends on the area you live. here its totally possible. my buddy bought a house for like $30,000 and has $300/month mortgage payments. he works on it when he has the money and he is happy. some areas are quite reasonable if you want to put a little work into the place.


drew_ 4/6/2009 12:46:52 AM

i am a gay


ion_stasi_ 4/6/2009 4:06:12 PM

link to said income gauge based on world population thingy?


fnffishcore_ 4/6/2009 9:28:31 PM

I have 114,000 miles on my '03 Mazda 6S, and the transmission is strong as ever. It's also a stick, maybe that's why?


drew_ 4/7/2009 1:32:12 PM

i would just like to point out that i am a shit worthless gay who doesn't know the first thing about music or doing reviews.


drew_ 4/7/2009 9:37:07 PM

lambgoat's esteemed interview genius reacts to a cutting comment from hardcore/metal's finest


drew_ 4/8/2009 8:02:50 PM

schizophrenic gay who shouldn't be allowed out of the house continues to talk to himself on the internet.


drew_ 4/10/2009 3:33:33 PM

I enjoy peeing


anonymous 5/28/2009 2:50:00 PM

post n00dz of the singer